Today, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, is Veterans Day. This week many of us are remembering those who have served and are serving in the armed forces.
It’s been 103 years since the end of World War I, the war, it was said, to end all wars. But the armistice signed at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 was, in effect, a cease-fire that lasted 20 years until the same warring parties resumed the carnage. Originally known as Armistice Day and observed annually by Americans on Nov. 11, it was declared a national holiday by Congress in 1938.
In 1954, President Eisenhower officially changed the name to Veterans Day to honor those living and dead who served in uniform during times of war or peace.
Veterans are in the news this year for many good reasons, including the number who ran for public office, a spike in veteran candidates not seen since the end of World War II.
But other news of those who volunteered to serve their country is not good at all, with suicide and drug overdoses — as well as alcohol abuse — continuing to be some of the most common killers of veterans. Homelessness among veterans and those living in poverty is a national disgrace.
There has been some positive news, however, with the number of veterans experiencing homelessness dropping by 43% since 2011. Still, there are grim numbers to confront. The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports that more than 37,000 vets are without homes to call their own in America. Those in shelters, according to the NAEH, number 22,048, while the number of those living in woods, parks, their cars or on the street, is 15,204. The Veterans Administration has outreach and resources available to combat homelessness among our veterans. Go to www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf/ for information.
“The challenges at the V.A. are multifaceted,” said Terri Tanielian of the RAND Corporation, who researches veterans’ health concerns. “Recognizing that addressing these issues takes sustained leadership commitment, not sound bites, is essential if we are going to deliver on the promises to veterans at the V.A.”
Let’s hope things change for the better. And this week, and every week, remember those Islanders — and those everywhere — who served and are serving our country.